WIND Mobile has announced a deal where its parent company Orascom Telecom will own an indirect 99.3% interest in the company, making it the first fully foreign-owned wireless carrier in Canada. Industry Canada recently removed restrictions for foreign investment for telecoms with less than 10 percent market share.
Orascom is backed by its parent company, VimpelCom, the second largest telecom in Russia.
Speaking with CTV News, Lacavera noted the deal will require government approval:
“Assuming that the government is satisfied, then yes, this would be the first example of a foreign controlled telecommunications carrier in Canada,”
“The deal I am doing really solidifies Wind for the next five years because now a foreign carrier like Orascom can invest with confidence and certainty,”
Lacavera will transfer his shares of WIND Mobile Canada to Orascom and plans to step down as CEO, but will continue as an honorary chair. He plans to launch a new venture capital, Globalive Capital later this year.
Ahmed About Doma, Chief Executive Officer of Orascom said “Anthony Lacavera has been the face and the voice of WIND Mobile Canada…I wish to pay tribute to his leadership in making WIND Mobile the official alternative to the ‘Big Three’ incumbents in Canada.”
In late 2011, Orascom’s Naguib Sawiris admitted in an interview he ‘regretted’ entering the protected Canadian wireless market. If today’s deal goes through, WIND Mobile will have a better chance of increasing its marketshare in Canada, which stands at 600,000 subscribers.
WIND Mobile’s application to launch in Canada was initially rejected by the CRTC back in late 2009, but Industry Minister Tony Clement overturned the ruling, which incumbents Rogers, Bell and TELUS opposed.
Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed said at the time “there’s no question in my mind that Canada cannot support more than three national facilities-based players…it’s inconceivable to me.” Looks like that is about to change with WIND’s greater access to foreign capital.
Who’s excited about this announcement? This will bring further competition to the wireless landscape in Canada, which is great for consumers.